Back in late January, the company sent the wifey and I out to Portland to check out the city, the neighborhoods, the studio, the whole she-bang. It was a great trip, one filled with trepidation, opportunity, and great potential. It felt so wrong to be in a city so far away from Atlanta and especially since we weren't supposed to be there, but dangit -- we weren't going to let that spoil it for us. And we had a blast. Our good friends Craig and Amy showed us around the neighborhoods, giving us a chance to take it all in and to give us some clues as to what to expect for various schools, etc. We considered ourselves very lucky to have them as hosts.

Anyway, we took photos while we were there. Andrea put the best of them in a nice Flickr photoset which can be viewed HERE. It's a gorgeous town. I've heard nothing but good things about the city. We're looking forward to becoming Portland residents soon.

You know I just had to check out the local antique/junk stores, right? And for the record, I did buy that book I'm thumbing through.



This is how my life feels right now: full-on crazy, head spinning, multi-tasking frenetic energy and all on wheels. At least it feels like it's on wheels. Just switch out this domestic goddess's ear-to-ear smile with a look of fear and then you'll get a perfect example of how I feel right now. See, on top of all the sorting, filing, organizing, packing, moving, searching for a new home thousands of miles away, etc., we've had to find and buy a new car before the Big Move because our current one might loose its engine block halfway across the country, and.... I had to have a molar extracted today making me feel oh-so wonderful right this very minute. Gotta love perfect timing.

In the meantime, here's some neato scans of ads and illustrations found in that December 1954 issue of Better Homes & Gardens I posted about earlier. I've got priorities, people.

Not part, but whole
Nice illustration above. Yay for Daddies bringing home the....uh, oranges?

Neophyte Newt
Nice, simple clean lines here. Nice nice nice. Love the characters, too. Best viewed larger.

Classic housewife loving her appliance with a freakish-like glee. View larger, if you dare.

The following spot illustrations were for an article on winter driving. The artist signed it: "Pearson." They are very well executed with some nice stylization for the clouds and use of the blue spot color here and there. Definitely view them larger if you get the chance. Great stuff:

Winter Driving 1
View larger.

Winter Driving 2
View larger.

Winter Driving 3
View larger.

Winter Driving 4

Okay! Whee! There ya go! Excuse me while I dive back into my enormous pile of old notebooks, saved magazine clippings, and forgotten sketches.


The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora

Now that all the heavy news about us moving to Portland is out of the way, I want to get back to what I enjoy about this blog: posting about art and animation. I posted a review of the new Jim Flora book on Drawn! and thought I'd share it with you all here. Please buy the book. It's worth it. Here's the review:

I've been rendered completely numb for the past couple of days because Fantagraphics sent me a copy of The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora, a book that I've been pining for a long time. I did a brief blurb about it last March, and since then I've dedicated a few more posts about Flora both on Drawn! (here and here) as well as on my own blog. Obviously I'm biased about his work, but I don't care -- I know that there are many artists, illustrators and animators who have been heavily influenced by Jim Flora. He was a master of contorted shapes, colors, and figures, all done with a mid-century deconstructive rebel mindset; an iconoclast in every sense of the word, never bowing to the usual editory convictions. I thought that one book on the master would be enough for anyone -- even for diehard fans. But, no. After going through page after page of beautiful long-lost Flora art and reading the breezy and insightful words of Chusid, Curiously Sinister is a must-have for anyone who loves wildly imaginative imagery and unbridled character design.

Often there are wary expectations for anything labeled as a "second collection" because the assessment is that the material contained within is probably, well, secondary or sub-par. A chance to cash-in on the notoriety of Flora's name, right? Not so here. Chusid writes in the introduction of Curiously Sinister that the contents of this book was material that they didn't know existed while compiling the first book. After discovering a storage unit filled top to bottom with oddities and unseen work throughout Flora's career (1930's - '90's), Irwin and co-author Barbara Economon both knew what they had to do: archive all of it immediately and get as much of it out there for the world to see.

And we all should thank them profusely for their efforts. While Jim Flora may be best known for his unique jazz album covers in the 40's and 50's, as well as for his amusing children's books from the 50's into the 70's, what Curiously Sinister does is sidestep the usual Flora fare with artwork that the artist did on the side, on his own time. It's fascinating because after thumbing through page after page of Flora's more personal works was like witnessing a mad scientist concocting incredible creations deep in his basement, no holds barred. Flora's professional work was already a mind-altering head trip, but man -- after just a few pages into this book you'll see that that was just the tip of the illustrative iceberg. And by publishing a second book of Flora artwork, Chusid and Economon offer us the full scope of who James Flora really was, discombobulated figures and all. It's a rare glimpse into the mind of Flora -- a mind that never seemed to concern itself with limitations, constrictions or constraints. Flora offered us more than just "jazz art" -- he gave us limitless possibilities when it comes to our own art.

Other links:

It should be noted that Irwin and Barbara have started up a Jim Flora blog, with some excellent insider notes on various works by the artist.

Support the family: buy original art and prints at the newly redesigned Jim Flora Art (with a nice jazz soundbyte to set the mood); buy t-shirts and other items at the official Jim Flora eBay store. I've got a "Jivin' Teens" t-shirt. Checkit, it's lovely:

Flora shirt

Finally, the official Jim Flora site has also been recently redesigned and it looks mighty swanky. Be sure to check out the special gallery section on woodcuts, where they take a recently discovered Flora woodcut block (dated 1946) and bring it back to life.


Northwestward, ho!

Wow -- where do I begin? It's weird to think that I'm finally writing about this. I've been wanting to say something for weeks now, but couldn't until all the fine details were worked out. Now it's official...

I've decided to accept a job at Laika for the position of 2D Animation Director. It will be for Laika/House -- the commerical division. (Laika/Entertainment is the feature film division.) Laika, as some of you may already know, is based out of Portland, Oregon. That's over 2,600 miles away from Atlanta, Georgia. Quite a move for me and my family. But after many months of thinking and praying about it (and many more weeks spent in deep discussion with Andrea), we decided that this would be the best thing for our family. It's going to be a major change -- I've lived in Atlanta almost my entire life and the majority of my family calls it home, including my parents. I've only known the Atlanta animation industry for my entire animation career. Working with individuals so far removed from the insular network of this Southern city will be quite a shock, but I'm ready and willing to face the change. Looking forward to it, actually.

Naturally, I will miss my immediate family, my fellow Primates, and all my animator and artist buddies here in Atlanta. My last day at Primal Screen will be March 16th, so Andrea and I are currently knee-deep in moving and packing plans. We definitely have our work cut out for us before we tackle the Big Move. And for kicks and giggles, we're planning on driving across the country the following week. I know -- crazy isn't it? Maybe we'll be in your neck of the woods, you never know.

This is such a huge step for my career and creatively? Extremely impressed with the amount of talent I saw housed within Laika's walls. Such an honor to become the newest member of Laika's creative family.

So, there you go -- I'm leaving Primal. (Boy, so odd to actually type that.) I can't complain, though-- The past six years have been very good to me. Many Primal jobs have showcased my personal style and how many people can lay claim to that? A spot is now available, of course, so Primal Screen is starting their search to fill that spot. If you are an experienced animation director with a strong sense of design, contact Jeff at: jeff [at] primalscreen [dot] com. If you have a website or blog featuring your work, please include links. Jeff will thank you.

If you're ever in Portland after March of this year, would love to say hello. Please contact me here via my blog and let's do lunch. Also, I'd like to add that the Platform International Animation Festival will take place in Portland, June 25-30. A great excuse to come up (or down or over) to see me.


Ava Thursday: Colors that Rhyme

If you like colors that rhyme and bubbles that pop, be sure to check out Ava Thursday over at hula seventy this week.

Lovely stuff.


1986: Senior

1986: Senior
1986: Senior

My senior year proved to be an unfulfilling one. By the end of it, I realized I hadn't really prepared myself for the future. So when I graduated, I felt like I was sitting in a boat in the middle of a big lake with no oars. Nowhere to go, nothing planned. Eventually, I did get my act together. Although, I took the long, slow and winding road-- took my sweet ol' time (Mom calls it "Ward Time"). It didn't help that I was so conflicted about my art and what I wanted to do with it. What did I want to be? Commercial artist or fine artist? Cartoonist or painter? I liked all aspects of art, but never thought about having to focus my efforts towards one particular line of work.

During my senior year, I continued to draw cartoons and caricatures for my friends. At this point in time, I had accepted my fate as the "Artist Ward Jenkins" and drew doodle after doodle for my friends. As I mentioned before, I didn't really mind it. The looks on their faces and their reactions when I handed them the drawings made it all worthwhile.

My parents officially divorced during that year. They didn't really make a big deal out of it-- I think for the sake of my sister and me. Actually, I found out by accident. One day, when my Mom picked me and Amy (my sister) up after school, I hopped in the back seat and noticed a large manilla envelope laying on the floorboard. Curious, I looked through it. I saw that the envelope was filled with what seemed to be legal documents and I saw both my parents' signatures on the last page. It was the divorce papers. That was that. Guess it's final, I thought to myself.

My grades continued to suffer throughout the year and my interest in school dwindled to nothing. By the last quarter, I made no effort to pass any class (save for the one that I needed in order to graduate). And even though my Mom and I had mended ways the previous year, I had no desire to learn anything anymore. Typical moody artist.

At this point, I was hanging out with friends from other schools. I think I enjoyed the different vibes from entirely new groups of people I was unfamiliar with -- they were so different from the cliques I hung out with at my own school. Having a new group of friends seemed to satisfy me. Unfortunately, the bonds I'd made with those from my own school had been somewhat severed. I didn't really feel close with anyone at my own school anymore. And I blame no one but myself. Though lately I've been trying to mend broken bonds with those from my own high school-- those I considered myself really close with-- and was able to reconnect with some before the big 20th Reunion.

Ah, the Reunion. I went to it this past Saturday. Fascinating, to say the least (I'll have to write more about it in another post, though I do want to finish up my thoughts here). I was able to get in touch with several of my friends before the Reunion, but some were unable to make it. Would've been great to sit and talk with them one-on-one, but I completely understand their reasons for not going. During the course of the night, I realized just how close some of them were with each other and I have to admit, it was a bit hard for me to hear that many of them were in each other's weddings, etc. I only kept in touch with about three of my former classmates throughout the years (and several more about a year ago) so really, I shouldn't get all weepy about it. Like I said, I blame no one but myself. That's cool, I don't mind. I have everyone's numbers and emails now and they have mine. Some even mentioned that they found my blog recently and were checking up on me before the Reunion (hey -- how come you guys didn't email me? Blurkers!), which was a little odd to hear. They knew everything about me beforehand but I knew nothing about them! Oh well. So it goes. I'm looking forward to re-establishing those bonds once again.

Lookit, I made it in my Senior yearbook a couple of times:

1986: Me and Terha

This photo makes it look like my friend Terha and I are an item. We weren't, but don't we look like a cute couple?

Here's what the copy reads next to the photo:

Terha Vanderheyden and artist Ward Jenkins show off a yellow ticket written for disorderly conduct. The court date was set for November 18.

Now it looks like Terha and I did this so-called "disorderly conduct" together. We didn't. It was from the annual Junior/Senior Egg Fight which had happened the previous weekend. We were punks, I tell ya. Juvenile punks!

1986: Most Changed Since 8th Grade
On top of the usual Senior Superlatives (Most Athletic, Most Likely to Succeed, etc.) they did Silly Superlatives at the back of the yearbook for '86. I got voted "Most Changed Since 8th Grade."

Why am I leaning here? I thought they were shooting me full figure, so I put my left foot up on the locker behind me, knee bent. This made me lean to my right, to off-set the balance. It looks weird, but I've always liked this shot.

In case you're wondering, Ann Marie Dean went from total preppy to total punk by the time she was a Senior.

Typical quotes from people who signed my yearbook:

"Well dude I can't believe we're almost out! High school went by fast as hell. It's time to party. I'm glad we became friends and we have to party sometime soon, like tonight!" (from a guy)

"Hey man! I'm really glad we've become such close friends over the years. It's been a great year and I hope of [sic] friendship can mainstay the test of time. You're a very talented guy in many different aspects and I hope your excellent abilities bring you immense success. Good luck for the future!" (from a girl)

In the back of the 1986 Yearbook, they have several lists of current events and pop culture -- here are three:

Rocky IV
Out of Africa
Nightmare on Elm Street II
Back to the Future
St. Elmo's Fire
Beyond Thunderdome
The Color Purple
Pretty in Pink
Jagged Edge
The Gods Must Be Crazy

Tears for Fears
Phil Collins
Whitney Houston
Simple MInds
Bruce Springsteen
Thompson Twins
Corey Hart
Bryan Adams
Sheila E. (What??? No Prince?)

My very close friend Laura (one of the three I still kept in touch with throughout the years) scribbled in her own list around the names listed above. Check out her version:

The Smiths
The Blue Nile
Steel Pulse
Tones On Tail
Violent Femmes
The Psychedelic Furs
Echo & The Bunnymen
Modern English
Elvis Costello

(What an exquisite taste in music -- one of the many reasons I loved hanging out with Laura. Another reason was her intelligence and unique outlook on life. She didn't make it for the 20th, but we still keep in touch from time to time.)

Stirrup Pants
Oversized Clothes
Cropped Pants


Okay, well, that was fun, wasn't it? I hope you all enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I did. Sure it was a bit narcissistic, but isn't that what blogs are all about? I'll post about my 20th Reunion soon.


1985: Junior

1985: Junior
1985: Junior

The first half of my junior year started out pretty well -- it was still 1984 and "Purple Rain" was big, big, BIG. No lie. It was The Year of Prince, thanks to the hit album and movie that came out during the summer. (I was 15 at the time and because the movie was rated "R", opening day became a family affair -- my mom, sister, aunt, and cousin were all by my side -- imagine my surprise when I see Prince getting it on with Apollonia in the middle of the film. I slowly started to sink into my seat as the love scene played on....I was horrified. But what did I expect? It was Prince! I should've known better.) It was all about the Purple One & Co. for me during that year: The Time, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Sheila E, The Family, et al. My best friend Lane and I were completely immersed in the Minneapolis sound and between the two of us we owned every single album that was available from all those groups. And purple? Let me tell you: The shirt you see me wearing above is purple with red stripes. It was the 80's. Prince was big. It was okay to wear those colors together, believe it or not. You saw it EVERYWHERE. (Just had to get that out of the way.)

Anyway, as I mentioned, the first half of my school year went rather smoothly. It was during the second half where things went downhill. 1985 to me has always been my Hell Year. Don't know what it was, but everything went out of whack for me. First of all, with my mother and father still separated and Dad living in an apartment nearby, I began to test Mom's boundaries. Whenever we were in the same room we argued like it was going out of style. I was a little punk! Talking back to my mama, what was I thinking? Looking back, I see that it was your garden-variety, typical teenage stuff -- I had just turned 16 and I was rebelling against authority. I got my first two speeding tickets within a day of each other. I also spent two weeks in in-house suspension for a now-famous incident that I'd rather not talk about. Suddenly, I found myself hanging out with a different crowd. More partying, drinking, smoking, you name it. I'm not going to go into details, as it's pretty embarrassing for me to re-live it, but 1985 was definitely a turning point in my high school career. I was not myself.

Safe to say, I survived my year-long ordeal. More importantly, Mom and I became even closer after it all. We look back on my 16th year as a "phase" I was going through and will laugh about it from time to time. (At least I do.)

Ugh. Just thinking about all the mistakes I made during my junior year makes me sick to my stomach. But you know, I'm sure that I'm making mountains out of molehills. Being a teenager entitles you to be overly dramatic about the tiniest of details. And to those who I felt I had wronged or hurt during that year, I'm sure that it wasn't such a big deal to them as I've made it out to be in my mind. To quote a former classmate who got in touch with me several years ago: "We were kids back then. Kids do stupid things."

I dated my first long-term girlfriend during this year. Her name was Kelle, a senior, and we dated for two months. Two whole months seemed like FOREVER back then. She was cute, sweet, and adorable and I was an idiot for breaking up with her. One of the many, many stupid things I did that year.

Typical quotes from classmates who signed my yearbook:

"Well, can you believe we're almost SENIORS - Awesome!! You have an awesome talent in art and I know one day you'll be a famous cartoonist - you better remember me!!" (from a girl)

"Happening you head? It's definitely been a raise hell year. Even though we never really had the chance to do any real partying together, I'm sure we can pick up the slack this summer." (from a guy)

For the Current Events section in the back of my 1985 yearbook, they had three sections:

Red Dawn
Passage to India
Killing Fields
Beverly Hills Cop
The Breakfast Club
Purple Rain
Places in the Heart
Bachelor Party

Billy Idol
Hank Williams Jr.
Billy Joel
Pointer Sisters
Lionel Richie
Billy Ocean
REO Speedwagon
Julian Lennon
Phil Collins
Hall and Oates
Bandaid [sic]

Break Dancing
The Wave
Neon Clothes
Jean Styles
Trail Skate (someone from the Seniors plastered the school with stickers from this roller skating place at Stone Mountain Park -- hard to explain)
Kroger (stickers, of course -- the Juniors response to the Trail Skate stickers)
Polo Cologne
Costume Jewelry
Tivial Pursuit
The Spa
Tanning Booths

Items of note: I saw Madonna in concert in '85 with a bunch of friends who all dressed up like Madonna-wannabe's. The opening act? The Beastie Boys. They were amazing. I also saw Prince during his big Purple Rain tour. I never had seen so much purple in all my life. Musically, I branched out and started listening to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rush, etc. Nowadays they call it "Classic Rock." Back then, it was just "Rock." Whatever. It was good and I liked it.


1984: Sophomore

1984: Sophmore
1984: Sophmore

Ooo, boy -- check out my spiked hair. I forgot how popular that hairstyle was back then. And notice that the photo is tinted lighter -- I forgot it was Photo Day (again) and for some stubborn reason I REALLY wanted my photo in the yearbook that year. Don't know why. So I talked my mom into taking me to an independent photographer to get one done. Kind of embarrassing now that I think of it, but oh well. What could you do? You can't see it because of the close crop, but I had a Gumby pin on my Polo shirt. (Not Izod -- I vehemently opposed the alligator-labeled shirts back then for some reason.) The shirt was bought at Muse's -- the only place in my mind at the time where you should buy Polo shirts. It was the shiz-nit back in the day, believe it. And Polo cologne? You couldn't go anywhere without that crazy scent in your nostrils. Very much an 80's thing. For the record, I didn't wear it. Never was a cologne guy.

I'm going through my yearbook and checking out all the photos, reading up on all the signatures and I'm thinking about how much fun my sophomore year was. But for some reason I can't really pinpoint why. I mean, there's the usual: I had a great time hanging out with a fun core group of friends, I was involved with various groups and activities, and I was listening to a broader range of music. But I can't think of any major events that changed my life forever.

I do remember how surprised I was by the number of times my face appeared in the 1984 yearbook when I first opened it up at the Yearbook Signing Party later that year. My buddy Loren was beaming. I think he was more excited for me than I was. Here:

1984: Caught
Someone on the yearbook committee thought it would be funny to poke fun at me. And that scribbled-in quote up there by me says it all. Check it -- Polo shirt (it's a different one from my school pic).

1984: Float making party 1
For Homecoming Week, our school had this thing where each class would make their own float and then present them all during the Pep Rally at the end of the week. What you see here is the sophomore float-making party of that year, which ended up being just another excuse for a party. During the week, no less. Look at me -- I'm directing already at such a young age. Actually, we're posing here -- that's Loren with oddly-held paintbrush. He and I were inseparable that year. Can we talk about the fashion here? OP: Ocean Pacific shirts. 'Nuff said.

1984: Float making party 2
Here's another shot of the sophomore float making party. I was going out with that chick on the left -- very risqué of me to pose like that. Definitely last minute. Don't you just love how short I was compared to her? Tessa was her name. Funny story: it was after school one day and she and I were hanging out in the hallways with a couple of our friends. One of the football coaches asked if we could clear the hall. As we were walking away, he pulled me to the side and said, "Hey, are you going out with that girl?" "Yes." "Really? A guy like you? With her? Wow. Okay." I was too naive to figure out exactly what he was getting at there. Too young and stupid, I guess.

Back to the picture, I love how the yearbook staff missed the hand to the crotch shot over there to the right.

1984: Homecoming Dance
I somehow made another appearance in the Homecoming section, this time during the dance itself. Sporting a skinny cloth tie -- remember those? Sadly, my date, Erin, was cropped from the original shot. She's on my left. That's Mike on the left there -- he and I go way back to grade school. Mike's date doesn't look all that excited.

Typical quotes from classmates who signed my yearbook:

"Hey! I'm really glad I met you this year and got to know you better! You are really sweet!" (girl)

"You're one wild n' crazy guy. It's been great getting to know you through soccer and school. And where did you learn to draw. Now that's where you've got some real talent." (guy)

"I really enjoyed being w/ you even if it was only for a short time. And I'm so sorry it was such a bad break-up." (Tessa)

In the back of my 1984 Yearbook:

In The News:
Jesse Jackson
Space Shuttle
Korean Flight 007
Sally Ride into space
GA 49th in SAT

Musical Notes:
Michael Jackson
Boy George
The Police
Billy Joel
Duran Duran
Lionel Richie
David Bowie
Irene Cara
Men at Work
Adam Ant

My sophomore year might've been my salad year, but my junior year was a doozy. Stay tuned.